Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Place God Comes to Make Us Rich

Love is not dependence but a gift that makes us live. The freedom of a human being is the freedom of a limited being, and therefore is itself limited. We can possess it only as a shared freedom, in the communion of freedom: only if we live in the right way, with one another and for one another, can freedom develop.
We live in the right way if we live in accordance with the truth of our being, and that is, in accordance with God's will. For God's will is not a law for the human being imposed from the outside and that constrains him, but the intrinsic measure of his nature, a measure that is engraved within him and makes him the image of God, hence a free creature.
If we live in opposition to love and against the truth — in opposition to God — then we destroy one another and destroy the world. Then we do not find life but act in the interests of death. All this is recounted with immortal images in the history of the original fall of man and the expulsion of man from the earthly

Homily: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 2005

Reflection – So much wisdom packed into three little paragraphs. Perhaps the most important words in this bit of the homily are these: ‘the freedom of a human being is the freedom of a limited being and therefore is itself limited. We can possess it only as a shared freedom, in the communion of freedom.’
If we understand this, we understand almost everything about our life, God and our relationship to him, the nature of morality. These two short sentences even open up for us a rich meditation into the mystery of Christ, the Incarnation, the Cross, the tomb, the resurrection. The collapse of the human person, rejecting this shared freedom, into death and dissolution, and the mysterious coming of God who loves us so very much, to penetrate the very heart of this rejection, this collapse, this death. Much to ponder here, much to pray about.
I was just talking with one of our young guests (for those who don’t know Madonna House, we have a live-in guest program in which people come and participate in our communal life for periods ranging from a week to a year). He was laying out for me in considerable detail the normal life of a young person living outside of any context of faith and Church in the year 2011.
‘We destroy one another and destroy the world’ pretty well sums up his description of things. Alcohol and drugs and casual no-strings attached sex: all in a context of deep hopelessness and futile anger, a profound despair and meaninglessness. Such is the world fashioned by the culture of moral relativism for many, many young people today. Those of us who defend the concept of absolute morality are often derided as cruel and judgmental; the real cruelty lies with those who have denuded our world of any solid ground for these young ones to live and be happy.
It is odd, I realize, that the way back to joy and freedom is the way of Law, but it is so nonetheless. We are limited creatures; our freedom is a shared freedom; the one who secures us in freedom is the Unlimited One who is also the All Free One; we enter and share in his unlimited freedom by communion in love with Him; this communion in love with Him is the path of obedience.
Mary, as always, is the one who shows us the radiant beauty and luminous simplicity of this way. She lived in this limitation of human being: “He has looked on his servant in her lowliness.” And so she entered into the true grandeur of participation in God’s life: “From this day all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.”
And so it is Advent. A time when we are called to ponder our limitations, our insufficiency, our need for communion with this mysterious Other so as to be truly free. Our poverty, which is simply the place where God comes to us to make us rich. God ransoms captive Israel and sets us free from the ancient curse. He comes to us—and this is the consolation and joy of Christmas. He came; he comes; he will come. We were freed; we are free; we will be made free. Alleluia.

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